Queensland to recommence uranium mining

The Queensland Government announced yesterday that uranium mining would recommence in the state, overturning a ban which has lasted since 1982.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said strong support for the uranium industry by the Federal Government had helped in the decision.

“The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just been in India selling the benefits of Australian-produced uranium to India, prompting many in the community to ask about the industry’s potential in Queensland,” Newman said.

“It’s been 30 years since there was uranium mining in this State, and in that time Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have carved out successful uranium industries that deliver jobs and prosperity to their regions.”

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said the uranium deposits in the state were worth an estimated $10 billion .

The issue of mining uranium in Queensland has been back in the spotlight since the Queensland Resources Council and The Uranium Association of Australia lobbied the state government in September in a push to overturn the ban.

In a statement released by both organisations, aimed at the QLD government, they said:

“Developing Queensland’s uranium deposits will create new jobs, support new business and help to consolidate the state’s reputation as a leading mining investment destination.”

At the time Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said the QLD government should not forget its election promise of upholding the uranium ban.

Sweeney went on to say that the uranium industry is one of ‘headlines and heartaches’ and says the foundation is committed to ‘highlighting the costs and consequences (of uranium mining) both here and overseas.”

Sweeney told Australian Mining that uranium was, ‘a mineral unlike any other.’

“It is highly contested and controversial, and there is no compelling reason that would force QLD to change their mind,” he said.

Yesterday, Queensland Conservation Council executive director Toby Hutcheon said the government needed to focus on global trends such as renewables energy, The Australian reported.

"There is a downturn in nuclear power, particularly after the Fukushima disaster in Japan," he said.

"BHP has also stopped its Olympic Dam expansion. The global trend is to invest in renewables."

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk is also against the decision and told reporters, "Queenslanders don't like uranium … Campbell Newman has turned his back on them.”

The Government plans to establish a three-member implantation committee to oversee the recommencement of mining the mineral, who will report back to the government in three months.

Operational mines are said to be a few years off.

The response to allow uranium mining to recommence has been met with a positive response by members of Australian Mining’s Facebook community who have said the move ‘would be a much needed 'shot-in-the-arm' for our resource sector in Qld.’

Others have said the move will ‘create more jobs’ but were quick to point out that they hoped the work would be given to Australian workers.